Saturday, fifth-ranked Alabama ended its 2022 season, beating ninth-ranked Kansas State 45-20 in the Sugar Bowl. In a game that was essentially just a glorified exhibition and a spot where past teams didn’t show up, this Alabama team did the opposite and might have saved their best game for last. This year’s Sugar Bowl appearance was just the second time in the previous eight years that Alabama has been in a bowl game without title implications. Still, despite the lack of title hopes, this team was on a mission to show the country how talented this team really was, ending the season in domination of its opponent.

Here are some key takeaways from the game.

  1. Bryce Young

In what most people expect to be his last game for the Crimson Tide, Bryce Young capped his career with an epic performance. Young started off slow, completing just three of his first six passes, missing his targets badly, but quickly turned it around, completing 12 of his last 15 pass attempts. Young would finish the day with 321 passing yards and five touchdowns with a 71 percent completion percentage. After battling a shoulder injury earlier in the season, Young finally looked like he was 100 percent healthy with the accuracy of his deep ball.

  1. Jermaine Burton

One of the biggest improvements this season has been Georgia transfer receiver Jermaine Burton. Burton started the season off slow, but over his past handful of games, he has really emerged as a threat. Saturday, Burton continued this hot streak hauling in three receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, his third game in a row recording 80 or more receiving yards. Burton finished his first season with the Crimson Tide catching a career-high 40 passes for 677 yards and seven touchdowns. Burton is expected to return to play another season with Alabama next year.

  1. Brian Branch

Alabama safety Brian Branch had a huge game defensively for the Crimson Tide, finishing the day with 12 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, and one interception. All week Nick Saban talked about how he told his potential draft prospects that the only way to create value for yourself is to play against top competition, and Branch was the perfect example. Branch, a projected late first or second-round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, opted to play in the Sugar Bowl and created a ton of more value for himself in doing so.

  1. Jahmyr Gibbs

Another potential high NFL Draft pick, Jahmyr Gibbs, also decided that he would play in the Sugar Bowl not only to create more value for himself but because, as a transfer from Georgia Tech, he had never been to a bowl game before. With the Alabama offense struggling early in the first quarter, Gibbs did what he does best, gave the offense a spark, making a crucial third down catch over the middle and taking it 60 yards down to the Kansas State nine-yard line where the Crimson Tide would eventually punch it in for their first touchdown of the game. Gibbs would finish with 142 yards of total offense, 76 rushing and 66 receiving.

  1. Will Reichard

Crimson Tide kicker Will Reichard did most of his work Saturday, kicking extra points and hitting all six of his attempts. Reichard was called just once for a field goal attempt, and his 49-yard attempt was perfect. The successful field goal may not have been important as far as the game was concerned, but it did help establish him as the most accurate kicker in Alabama history. Reichard ended his career with an 82.6% kicking success rate hitting 62 of his 75 field goal attempts. Another milestone for what arguably is the best kicker in Alabama history, after earlier in the year establishing himself as the program’s career scoring leader, passing Leigh Tiffin. Reichard will be missed as earlier in the month, he accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, signifying his progress toward the NFL Draft.

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